BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Josh Gray finally showcased his offensive skills in LSU's convincing 82-60 non-conference victory against Massachusetts on Tuesday night.
Gray, who had averaged 35 points per game at Odessa (Tex.) College last season, was aggressive on the offensive end for the first time this season. Gray scored a season-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field.
In the previous six games, Gray had averaged just nine shots per game. He had not scored more than 14 points in a game since the season-opener. Gray, who had five assists, made three 3-pointers - one fewer than he had made in the previous six games together.
"To be honest with you, I played really well the last game," said Gray, who had 13 points and seven assists against McNeese State. "Tonight was just like any other night. I just played hard and tried to follow the game plan. We did a good job of speeding UMass up. Everyone was on the same page."
Gray received ample support from three of his teammates. Jordan Mickey registered his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Quarterman came off the bench to score 15 points, while Jarell Martin had 12 for LSU (5-2).
"Our guys did a great job in the first half," Tigers coach Johnny Jones said. "Those guys are extremely tough getting to the basket. We did a great job helping down in the lane. Offensively, we were as fine-tuned as we've played all year by sharing the ball and making the right reads all night."
UMass (5-3) trailed by at least 10 points for the last 13 minutes of the game. Cady Lalanne led the Minutemen with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Maxie Esho added 14 points, while Trey Davis picked up 11 points and Derrick Gordon had 10.
"The start was indicative of the whole game," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "We gave them free baskets off of tough offensive plays and our press. That got them going. We made a couple of short runs at them, but those were inhibited by our poor decision-making."
Massachusetts battled back from an early eight-point deficit to tie the score at 24-24 on a basket by Gordon with 8:22 remaining before halftime. LSU proceeded to take control of the game with a 17-2 run. Four Tigers players scored points in that stretch.
Martin accounted for six points on two field goals and two foul shots. Quarterman made two field goals, including a 3-pointer. Mickey sank a pair of baskets. The other points came on a layup by Gray which gave LSU a 41-26 lead with 2:44 left in the opening half.
The Tigers still had a double-digit advantage four minutes into the second half. A three-point play by Mickey put LSU on top 51-40. LSU expanded its margin to 15 points at 57-42 following consecutive field goals by Quarterman, Martin and John Odo.
The Tigers had another flurry of points slightly past the midway point of the second half. A three-point play by Keith Hornsby and a baseline jumper by Mickey gave LSU a 65-48 advantage with 8:51 to play. The Minutemen came no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
LSU: The Tigers shot 54 percent from the field (35-of-65). Since Johnny Jones became coach two seasons ago, LSU has a 14-1 record when it makes at least half of its field goal attempts.
Massachusetts: The 60 points were the fewest of the season for the Minutemen. In UMass' first seven games, it had scored less than 70 points once in an 81-68 loss to Notre Dame.
LSU BLOCK PARTY
The Tigers registered a season-high 10 blocked shots. Mickey had five of the blocks which ran his career total to 120. Mickey is one blocked shot behind Storm Warren for fourth place on the school's all-time list.
RARE OFFENSIVE NIGHT
UMass had problems knocking down shots as it made just a season-low 38 percent of its field goal attempts (23-of-61). Lalanne, who entered the game shooting 53 percent from the field, missed 9 of his 15 field goal attempts.
AVENGING CLOSE LOSS
LSU opened its season a year ago with a tight 92-90 defeat against the Minutemen in Amherst. In that game, Martin sprained an ankle on the first Tigers possession and missed the rest of the game. Martin had five rebounds and three steals to go along with 12 points as he played 34 minutes Tuesday.
LSU will play at West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Thursday.
Massachusetts will play Florida Gulf Coast in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase in Springfield on Sunday.
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Posted on Thu, December 4, 2014
by BRYAN LAZARE, Associated Press